Jimmy Carter and the Hugos

I recently posted the following Jimmy Carter speech to my Facebook page:

It’s rather prescient, no?At the other end of the spectrum is this oft-linked Ronald Reagan speech warning of the “evils” of socialized medicine:

I don’t doubt Reagan’s sincerity. But it is instructive to note the Right’s philosophical objection to socialized medicine, at least according to Reagan. It’s twofold: (1) if you can’t afford it, you don’t deserve it; and (2) it’s the beginning of telling doctors where to work, and that ain’t American.

Interestingly, I think few today –other than many doctors themselves– would object to legislating where and to whom doctors must provide service. In Canada, we are almost there, with an incredibly polarization of services leaving rural and remote regions almost completely unserviced. The market has no solution for such disparities.

But back to Carter. It’s not a popular view, but I’ve always held that Carter was a great man who let his good soul get in the way of being a great President. He did what was right, not what his electorate wanted of him. Some would argue that doing what is right is what makes a great leader; others would argue that serving the needs of the people is what defines greatness. I do know, though, that many of Carter’s beliefs and predictions are only now being appreciated. The speech above references a real crisis of energy that is only now being taken seriously. In other speeches, he chastises citizens’ greed and wastefulness –a stark contrast to today’s leaders who toady to the electorate and insist that we are good and right when we clearly are not.

Carter came two generations too early. His manner and approach are sorely needed today.

I’m a bit worried about ol’ Jimmy. I haven’t seen him in the news of late, and he is pushing 90, after all. It will be a sad day indeed when President Carter shuffles off this mortal coil. Let’s hope it’s later rather than sooner.

In Other News

The nominees for the 2010 Hugo Awards were announced this week. If you don’t know, the Hugos are the premier science fiction awards, the Pulitzer for the nerd set, if you will. I won’t mention the novels or short stories, since few of you have heard of them. Rather, let’s look at the dramatic entries, bot long and short form.

Nominees for the long form (i.e., movies) include Avatar, Moon, District 9, Star Trek and Up.

I reviewed Star Trek here. It’s a fine action movie. But it’s neither science fiction nor clever. If it wins, I am through with the Hugos.

I reviewed Avatar here. It’s genuine science fiction, though heavily derivative and hardly worthy of an award that celebrates originality. If it wins, I won’t be through with the Hugos, but I will lose a hefty amount of respect for them.

Up is an excellent, moving and entertaining little film. But is it science fiction? I really don’t think so.

That leaves Moon and District 9. I must admit to not having seen Moon. I hear it’s quite good. But from what little I know of its plot, I question whether it’s actually science fiction. An astronaut on the moon is not particularly far-fetched. That leaves the sole option for winner being District 9.

Now, on to the short form, The nominees are an episode of Dollhouse, and episode of FlashForward and three episodes of Doctor Who. All are very good choices, though we can all wonder how Lost or Fringe didn’t make the list.

More baffling, however, is how this past year’s true masterpiece of TV science fiction failed to make the Hugo short list. I’m talking about Torchwood: Children of Earth, which I reviewed here.

I don’t use the word “masterpiece” lightly. It’s a difficult accomplishment to manage in a general public prime-time TV format, especially within the confines of an existing TV show with existing characters and relationships. But Children of Earth is that good, it really is. Not only is it pure science fiction –something the actual nominees dance around– but it’s poignant, heartbreaking, terrifying and exhilirating.

A big raspberry to the Hugo people for omitting Children of Earth. As compensation, let’s inaugurate the first annual Skiffy.ca TV award for the best science fiction dramatic short form. I hereby award it, without hesitation, to Russell Davies for his –wait for it– masterpiece in Torchwood: Children of Earth.